Go See a Show

Dear Millicent,

You know I am all for sitting inside the house and letting the world carry on while I’m happily snowed in by novels and long lost mini-series.  But, after last night, I’m going to have to change some of that. And, I call on all MCF readers to help me.  We have to go the theater/theatre. It’s important.

Remember how in the superb Slings and Arrows (get thee to your Netflix, or latenight IFC right now if you haven’t seen it yet),  a major plot point is the fact that all of the theaters ticket subscribers are old. I assumed this was exaggerated for the sake of plot points like this misguided attempt to pull in a younger audience with billboards like this:

Since I never go to plays (they’re expensive), I wasn’t in on the joke. The joke that it’s all true.  Due to a deal on tickets, I went to the Geffen Playhouse here in LA, which from its fanciness looks like a supremely endowed-theater. I saw The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, a play about 1980’s childhood nostalgia, pro-wrestling, race and capitalism in America. It was full of rap music. At several points, the entire audience was filled with the unhappy elbows of people covering their ears. There were no young people.  There were no middle-aged people. It was the New Burbage Theatre Festival.

I do not particularly like  young people.  But that’s neither here nor there. I had no idea how many people weren’t going to see plays. That sounds crass. What I mean is, the tradition of theater-going seems like it might be lost.  Younger generations aren’t theater-going, theater-finding, theater-thinking.  Concerts yes! Plays, no.

Theater is where we get our broad strokes on, where themes have to be present, where politics get to be stated proudly. Where we have monologues that are actual monologues! We have to go to the theater because if we don’t, by my hasty estimation, there will be no more ticket subscribers in 30 years, max. And we want plays like The Elaborate Entrance… to get made because they are all thinky and sweaty and compelling.  I have to say, from the grumbling I heard in the audience (“what’s this play about?” “I hate the music.” “Why can’t they keep their clothes on”) I assumed the audience hated the play.  I was wrong. They gave it a standing ovation.

Am I wrong? What was the last play you went to? What was the audience demographic? There is a strong chance my observation based on one night out is totally overblown. But I trust Slings and Arrows. 

Let’s all go to one play in the next 6 months. That gives us till March.

Yours,

CF

2 Responses to Go See a Show

  1. Nat says:

    Last 2 plays:

    Fat Pig (Neil LaBute): The actors were in theatre school, so I was quite possibly the oldest one there.

    As You Like It: It was the Stratford festival (aka New Burbage), so I was quite possibly the youngest one there.

    Results = inconclusive

    Strangely, both productions seemed to be striving desperately to reach the missing audience. The theatre school students were trying to be very sophisticated and the Stratford production was trying to be ingratiatingly accessible, with plenty of dance routines, songs, and hamming for laughs.

  2. cch says:

    It’s fall– It’s not too late to buy a season subscription, sometimes even short and discounted ones, from your local scrappy storefront theatre company.

    Just sayin’, as someone who performed in a theatre production this evening…

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